Wednesday, 14 November 2012

I promise I'm not a murderer.

This is a sort of 'out-of-office' post, as I'm literally popping in to say that I'm sorry I haven't been popping in recently. It's an anti-post, if you will. A blogging oxymoron.

Some of my readers will already know that, in addition to sewing, I spend a large amount of what I laughingly call 'spare time' at my local amateur theatre company - the South London Theatre. I've spent the recent weeks directing a production of Martin McDonagh's 'A Skull in Connemara', which has taken up a lot of my time.

It's also taken up a lot of Significant Otter's time, as he has been lending his crafty skills to my prop and set design. I shan't give too much away till the show's over, but suffice to say that this conversation happened far too often at a wedding we attended last weekend:

Drunken SO (to literally anyone who would stand still): I've got to dig two graves tomorrow. For all the skulls. (points at me) It's ok, it's all her fault.

ME: (to terrified bystander, while SO wanders off towards the dance floor): It's for a PLAY. The graves are for a play! And the skulls aren't real! Wait...come back....let me explain.....

I shall come back and explain more, next week. In the meantime, stay warm and keep stitching - someone has to take up the slack!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Happy Halloween!

I've been a busy bee lately starting my Christmas orders, but let's not forget there's another celebration coming up that, arguably, is just as much fun but without all the present pressure!

Should you want a little something to mark the ghoulish occasion, be it gifts or decorations, you can rely on makers of handmade crafts to come up with the goods. To prove that the devil gets all the best goodies (as well as music), here's a small selection of my favourite handmade Halloween items. Some eye candy to go along with the sugar candy, if you will. Click on the links below the pics to go straight to the product.


Handmade Monster Costume
 This monster costume from GuuGuuGa makes me *snork* with laughter. If I had a child it would be in fancy dress ALL THE TIME. Whether it liked it or not.

Skeleton Hands Halloween Headband

Janine Basil makes the most incredible hair accessories. This would be brilliant for a halloween party - or even a halloween wedding. In fact, please, someone wear this at their wedding. And send me pictorial evidence. Kthxbai.

Jack O'Lantern Cat Collar

Mustn't forget the furbabies at Halloween! I love the little pumpkin charm on this cat collar from Mogs Togs. They've got candy corn, spiderwebs and skull and crossbones versions too. If only Doug would stop losing his collars....

'Trick or Treat' Handmade Spiced Soap

Yup, you can even get spooky soap! This 'Trick or Treat' soap from Oakwood Soaperie looks as good as it smells, with layers of black mica swirled throughout for a spine-chillingly luxurious bathtime.

Hollow Pumpkin Earrings

How on earth Sulwen Arts manages to hand-carve these teeny polymer clay pumpkins so that they are hollow like real jack o'lanterns is utterly beyond me. Eagle-eyed Tim Burton fans will also spot earrings shaped like the Boogeyman's dice in her Folksy shop.

I'll leave you with a word from our sponsor, Angry Lemur. Don't have nightmares, now.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

In which I sell Things in the Real World

I've been making stuff out of fabric with skulls on and selling them to people under the guise of Lemur Lady for nearly two years now, but so far I have been able to hide behind the cosy virtual padded walls of the Interwebs. Aside from the odd cash sale to long-suffering friends ("I see you have a new phone. You know what you need for that? A phone cover with frogs on. Go on, buy one and I'll go away"), everything I've made has been photographed, Paypalled and posted.

I like running an internet craft business. It's warm and dry and apart from visits to the post office I can mostly do it in my pyjamas. I also have a lovely support network of other crafters, especially on my Facebook page. Whilst I wouldn't know them from Adam should I bump into them in the street (unless they too were in the post office queue in their pyjamas, which would be a dead giveaway), Facebook regulars such as LizzieMade, FionaT and OddSox make the virtual world seem like one big crafty community as homeworkers everywhere wait with bated breath for the 5 o'clock Friday wine bell to be rung by Little Black Heart.

So it was more in the aid of facing a fear than anything else that made me sign up to do my first actual, Real Life (TM) craft fair stall last weekend.

I live in West Norwood, a suburb of South London that has in recent years become home to the West Norwood Feast - a 'people powered market' that takes over the area on the first Sunday of every month. There are food stalls, craft stalls, performance areas, and a general feeling of villageyness (yes, that is a word. now.), in this unassuming high street. Since I live literally walking distance from the Artisans Hub (posh words for 'craft stall bit'), I thought it was time to stop spectating and get involved.

The month or so running up to the Feast saw me in a flurry of activity, desperately trying to get enough items made to have a respectable-looking stall. Finally, after burning the candle at both ends for so long that I gave up and chucked it on the fire, I was ready.

The night before I set out all my wares on a practice table at home. Eschewing the idea of a boring white tablecloth, I found this smashing spotty affair in IKEA. An eleventh-hour panic about how to display jewellery was quelled by the ever-resourceful Significant Otter, who invented the mushroomy-looking thing on the right of the table. It's a lampshade, stuck on top of an old gin bottle. And it spins! Honestly, that man could give MacGyver a run for his money. I'd worry, if his freaky talents weren't so useful.

The actual table was much bigger. I will remember this next time....

I was ready. I had stock, I had stuff to put stock in and on, I knew where I was going and when I had to get there.

Unfortunately, I also had a birthday dinner to go to that evening. The phrase "I'll just have a couple of glasses of wine, I've got a busy day tomorrow" was heard to escape my lips early on, but was quickly forgotten.

I learned the hard way, so you don't have to, that craft fairs are probably best attempted without a hangover.


I'm pretty sure the TARDIS parking space brought me luck.
After I'd got set up and had a restorative cup of tea, the world seemed a better place. I felt much like a small child playing at post offices among all the grown ups, most of whom were seasoned veterans, but my first sale settled my fears and I was able to get into my stride and really enjoy the day.

Against my expectations, I really enjoyed myself. I was convinced that people would think my stuff overpriced, underwhelming, badly made - all those things that the sensible me knows aren't true but that still rear their heads. But it soon became clear that my stall - and my items - were making people smile and, importantly, part with their cash. 

Would I do it again? Definitely, although with a full-time job as well I would never be able to maintain stock levels high enough to do fairs every week, or even every month. But it was a great confidence-booster to show off my work in the real world.

Having said that, I'm glad to be getting back to my custom orders and my online shop. Perhaps when I am a rich lady of leisure I'll be able to do both, but for now, I'm off back to Facebook to find out what everyone's been up to without me.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Meet Stanley. Flat Stanley

Last Saturday morning, I woke up, slightly hungover, and remembered that I had to be in the City of London in an hour and a half, stuffing a guinea pig.

This was not a normal weekend. Let me 'splain. And first, let me warn those of a squeamish disposition that - while I will not include any graphic descriptions or pictures - this post does concern taxidermy. If it bothers you, I won't be offended if you move on. I'll be back with more humorous sewing stories soon.

I am an animal lover. I have two cats that I adore much more than I think I probably could any children (children are noisy and not furry - usually - and much harder to put in a cattery when you go on holiday), and I grew up on a farm where there was a constant stream of wildlife and pets zipping about the house and garden. I also have a soft spot for whimsical taxidermy. It's not like I have a squirrel army in my house or anything (in fact, until this weekend, my house was free of deceased animals. As far as I know.), but I have no problem with it.

Amanda of the gruesomely-named Amanda's Autopsies creates beautiful ethical taxidermy oddities and jewellery, inspired by Walter Potter, whose creations fascinated me as a (admittedly slightly odd), child. Whatever your feelings on the display of animals after-life, as it were, there can be no denying the skill and imagination in these pieces. I am most certainly not advocating killing interesting beasties purely to decorate one's mantelpiece and nor am I eyeing up my own pets to make into catcopters, but I personally think that - as with the case of Amanda's pieces - if given the choice between being snake food and having a whole lot of love and care invested in your remains in order to preserve their beauty, I'd rather the latter. If I was a rodent. And, lets face it, the rodent probably isn't that worried either way.

And as with anything I am interested in, if given the chance to learn how to do it, I will jump at it.

So it was that I enrolled in Amanda's 'Stuff & Nonsense' Taxidermy for Beginners course last weekend, and learned how to stuff my own guinea pig. Except it wasn't my own guinea pig, it was one specially provided; sourced, as explained above, from animals humanely killed for reptile feed.

The course took place in the stunning environs of St Barts Pathology Museum. Photographs of the surroundings aren't allowed as it holds medical specimens, but they regularly hold fascinating lectures in their rooms which look like something out of Sherlock Holmes and Hogwarts combined and I would highly recommend a trip if you get a chance.

Amanda and her equally brilliant assistant ably showed us the right way to skin our tiny charges, which is the most time-consuming part of the business. As we worked away with teeny tiny scalpels, any initial squeamishness soon dispersed and - believe it or not - it actually became rather enjoyable. I don't mean in a weird, psychopathic Ted Bundy sort of way, but in that oddly relaxing way that any delicate work requiring a lot of concentration can be. And when you think about it, it's really no different from skinning a rabbit in the kitchen, or even a chicken for Sunday lunch (for those raised in less rural climes!).

Once successfully peeled, we washed our tiny guinea pig rugs and left them to dry while we had lunch.

Weirdest. Lunchtime. Ever.

After lunch was time for stuffing - which involves wire and cotton wool. I shall leave it at that for those who might have got this far but still have a delicate disposition.

Once finished, we compared results.

Dear god.

I would like to say, in my defence, that I did not have great raw materials. I was concerned at first that, rather than being humanely killed, my particular rodent had in fact been steamrollered to death as he was somewhat battered. Turns out he was in fact probably squished in the freezer. Which also accounts for the freezer burn down one side of his face. Although I will put my hand up to the fact that it was probably my fault his foot fell off and had to be superglued back on.

I had created an abomination.

This is his GOOD side.
When I brought Flat Stanley home ("pleasedontletmeleaveitonthebuspleasedontletmeleaveitonthebus") Significant Otter laughed at him for a good five minutes. This heartened me greatly as I had been expecting screams.

The next day I decided something had to be done. There were two options for dealing with this horrific creation. I could either burn it, then bury the ashes at a crossroads or make some sort of outfit to hide the worst bits. I wasn't entirely sure that it definitely wouldn't come back to life to haunt me after the burning and burying, so I went with the latter.

What sort of costume could Flat Stanley have that would hide his hideous disfigurements? I will admit I am rarely thankful to musical theatre for anything, but just this once, it had the answer.

I give you - Flat Stanley as The Phantom of The Opera.

"Listen to the music of the OHCHRISTWHATISTHATTHING??!"
(Yeah, I know it also looks a bit Jedi-ish. Multi-purpose taxidermy)
With his mask and tiny gondola-punting stick he has stopped giving me nightmares and is now allowed in the house. I have set Significant Otter to finding a bell jar to display him in. Turns out they are really expensive, but as I explained to him, you just can't put a price on this sort of family heirloom.

If you too are interested in the deconstruction and reconstruction of small furry animals, check out the Amanda's Autopsies website for details of the next classes and also photos of past ones - including this weekend's. Flat Stanley is number 71 in the photo album. I'm going to use that picture for his Spotlight application.

Monday, 3 September 2012

It's NOT Spearmint, it's EAU DE NIL!!!

About a month ago, Significant Otter and I helped a friend of ours move house. It was one of those slightly unorganised, chuck-everything-in-a-van-and-hope-for-the-best moves, where several bits of furniture that were deemed too bulky or knackered to survive were left behind to take their chances with the next occupants.

Among the newly-orphaned pieces was this chest of drawers:

"Save me", it seemed to cry....

Battered and bruised, it had loyally held the socks and pants of several studenty males over the years and deserved a dignified retirement.

So I decided that I would take it home and rehabilitate it.

"It'll be great!" I cried, lovingly stroking the cracked veneer and trying to avoid the suspicious stains, "I'll sand it all down and take off all the handles and fill in the holes and put new vintage ones on and paint it duck egg blue and use it to replace that IKEA thing in the bedroom"
SO was not so sure. "You won't", he sighed, "you'll never get round to it and it'll sit in the house taking up space and bruising our shins until we wish we'd just left it here."
"But it's SOLID WOOD", I declared, bringing out my trump card. If there's one thing I know about furniture (and there literally is only one thing, and this is it), it's that if it's solid wood you have to keep it and cherish it and never let it go because it might as well be made out of unicorn hair and fairy dust.

After a lot of eye-rolling SO decided that lugging this ridiculous thing down the stairs, emptying out a load of stuff that was already in the van to make space for it, then driving it round to our house and lugging it back up a load more stairs was going to be a lot less painful than arguing about it any more.

After a few weeks of its temporary internment in our kitchen, it became clear that SO's prediction was becoming horribly true, so after I had barked my shins on it for the 15468724th time  I decided it was time to evict the cats from the drawers (they were very pleased with their new feline apartment building), and do something about it.

So, one trip to B&Q later, SO had an electric sander and I had a tin of the most middle-class paint I have ever bought - Laura Ashley Eggshell in Eau de Nil. We also had a ton of plastic sheeting, bought on my insistence after it became clear that SO was planning on using bedsheets as dust catchers ("It's ok, I'll wash them afterwards.")

SO erected a Murder Screen, which made the kitchen look like something out of Dexter:

SO - Not Doing A Murder

....and he happily sanded away.

For about four hours.

While I filled in holes with wood filler and accidentally threw white spirit in the toaster. I was quite glad of the Murder Screen myself at that point, as SO didn't see my little accident. It brought the chrome up a treat.

Several hours (and one exploded sander), later, the chest of drawers was denuded and I was happy.

SO was not so much:


Neither was the basil plant on the windowsill, which was COVERED in sawdust. As was the winerack, the sink, the radio, the dishwasher and everything else that was on the Murder Screen side of the kitchen. Planning. SO does not have it.

The rest of the process was easy-peasy (and therefore I did most of it). One coat of white undercoat/primer, two of the Posh Paint, and one of Matt Satin varnish. Top tip - make sure you get water-based eggshell emulsion - it washes off the floors. And the walls. And your hands. And your shoes. And the cat.

Then all it needed was some posh new knobs (arf), which we sourced from This mail-order shop is based in Wales, but when the handpainted ceramic drawerpulls (I'm saying drawerpulls because every time I write 'knob' I have to stop to snigger), arrived it turned out they were made by Gisela Graham in  SE17, so we had unwittingly supported a local company after all.

And here's the finished product:

Even SO admitted that it was worth all the hassle in the end. Despite his insitence that it came out 'looking all spearmint'. It's not spearmint, it's EAU DE NIL.

I'm really pleased with how it's turned out, and it is now in the bedroom lording it over all the inferior furniture. I want to paint the whole house to match.

I reckon it probably cost about £60, a lot of which was kn.....drawerpulls, which were £2.50 each. And posh paint. You could argue that I could have bought something brand new for that much, which wouldn't have (as I later discovered), slightly sticky drawers where I really should have sanded down the varnish, and which wouldn't have given SO the Black Lung after spending the best part of a weekend inhaling sawdust, but where would be the satisfaction in that?


 In other, Lemur Lady news, check out my new large wallets. Card pockets, a bit for change, and more space for gubbins than you can shake a stick at. More designs on the way!

Monday, 2 July 2012

This is why I'm skint

Conversation between me and Significant Otter, who doesn't understand finances.

ME: I have totally screwed up my money this month. You know when we bought the car? I put a £500 deposit down and they were supposed to refund it to my credit card. Turns out they didn't, they refunded it to my bank account.

SO: Well, that's OK, isn't it? You can just pay off the card from the bank account.
This is actually why I'm poor

ME: No, I can't. Because I didn't know that they had put it into my account so I spent it all already.

SO: £500? You had £500 go into your account and you didn't realise? What did you spend it on?

ME: Um. Tattoos, fast cars and gin.

SO: You're not even joking, are you?

ME: Nope. The car's not that fast though. So, the upshot is that I am now £500 poorer than I thought I was but it's OK because the car was a joint purchase so you owe me half of that, which is £250. When can I have the £250 you owe me?

SO: What? But they gave the money back. You never actually lost that money.

ME: But I didn't know I had it. So it's the same thing. So you owe me half of it because it's your car too. I can't believe you'd be so mean. I can't pay for everything in this relationship.

SO: This is how the banking crisis happened.

(On the up side, my new tattoo is amazeballs. I will gaze lovingly at it while I am eating dust bunnies till next payday).

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Make It Sew - the playsuit edition

While it is terribly good fun being an Internationally Renowned Sewing Superstar (in my mind), there is a definite correlation between how many things I stitch to sell to happy customers and how little time I get to make anything for myself. I recently had to sheepishly buy a handbag from an actual high street shop (I know), and my resolution to stop buying clothes from Primarni that I could just as easily make for myself is resulting in a somewhat threadbare wardrobe.

Look at this smug young thing. Ugh.
So I am especially grateful to the 'Make It Sew' group that have continued to meet up since our original 'Sewing Bee' that I blogged about back in December last year. With a capacity of 5 (the maximum amount of machines that one normal domestic living room and a baffling array of extension cables can host), we spend a happy day once every few months eating cake, drinking buckets of tea, and working on our own personal projects. For me, that means a ban on anything Emporium-related.

My chosen project last weekend was something for my summer wardrobe. Apparently there is a slim chance that the sunshine might return for a brief visit later in the year, and even if not I plan to chase it to France in July and pin it down for at least a few short sessions on the sunlounger. I had a whole load of fab hibiscus print fabric left over from when I had to buy two lots of it having left the first batch in a pub (long story), so I decided to make a 1950's style playsuit so I can catch some rays, Tiki style, while reclining elegantly under a wide-brimmed hat with a cocktail. Or at least some cheap pink French wine from a box.

Catalogue pose...
I used McCalls 6331 which is an easy-peasy pattern and one which I would highly recommend, despite the fact that the photos on the cover make it look like a Tampax advert.

It did turn out rather more obscenely short than I'd hoped, but since my intention is really to wear it as a more modest version of a swimsuit I shall grin and bear it. I think it would work in a variety of fabrics - I'd quite like to make a nautical version one day.

Incidentally I'd totally recommend this type of pattern for someone new to sewing. There are no fancy techniques, it comes in very few parts and goes together really quickly. Even I only had to put the zip in twice, which is a personal best.

Go on, have a go. It's not rocket science, you'll have created something totally unique to you, and you'll feel great when it's finished. Everyone's a winner. Apart from Primark - which is as it should be.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

I am too extremely very busy.

This is a holding message. I am the busiest person in the world at the moment and consequently the worst blogger. Normal service (i.e. sporadic but not completely non-existent) will be resumed as soon as my friends stop all getting married and I stop all being in plays and all going to meetings and all hoovering the sofa (which takes up a great deal of my time due to the fact that my cats have taken the slight increase in ambient temperature in Southern England very seriously and turned into dandelion clocks who can seemingly release a cloud of fluff at will like some sort of defence mechanism, sort of how a lizard sheds its tail when you pull it).

In the meantime, you could do worse than popping over to the slightly-mad-in-a-good-way Fiona T's blog Words From Fiona's Brain for your fix of blogginess. She has recently baked scones AND catalogued her socks. Just make sure you pop back here to calm down when the excitement has become too much for you.

If you're in need of a quicker hit of internet smack, here is a picture of Doug being a retard.

We worry, but the vet says he's normal.

Or if you're really bored you could even go and buy something over at the Lemur Lady shop. Like this cute mirror with frogs on....

Two of these are princes. The others haven't been kissed yet.

Back soon (ish).

Friday, 25 May 2012

Road Trip! Part 1: San Francisco - Crescent City

As promised, here is the first instalment of my Great Big Adventure diaries. I have spent some time squinting at all the pieces of paper I scribbled notes on, and have decided that the best option is just to try and replicate them here, as best I can, for posterity. I will attempt to make some sense of them as I go along.

Error. Massive error.
So. We began in San Francisco. Well, technically, the adventure began at Heathrow Airport, where we boarded the plane in great excitement. Within 37 seconds (a personal best), I had managed to change all of my seatback entertainment controls to Japanese and had to make SO fix it for me. I then watched 4364623423 films, including War Horse, which was rubbish.

My notes for San Francisco read as follows:

  • Mechanical Monkey Band
  • Terrifying laughing Sally thing 
Both of the above are from our trip to the 'Musee Mechanique', a truly fabulous rainy-day outing of a place featuring a collection of antique coin-operated machines. Many of them utterly terrifying, such as the giant Laughing Sally puppet mentioned above. If you click on the link (which I wouldn't advise), you will be treated to a glimpse of her which will ensure you don't sleep for a week. The Mechanical Monkey Band, however, remains one of the best things I saw all holiday. Or ever.
Best. Game. Ever.

  • Deathstar (Star Wars Arcade Game. See above)
  • Clam chowder
  • Cablecar (obviously)
  • Pirate Shop
  • Baboon with wings
The pirate shop refers to 826 Valencia - San Francisco's only independent pirate store. It is exactly as brilliant as it sounds. The last point refers to the shop next door to this, which stocked the most incredible array of bizarre taxidermied animals I have ever seen. It was purely import laws and luggage allowance which stopped us from spending the rest of the trip carting around a full-sized angry baboon with peacock wings grafted onto its back. Because I don't have enough of those.

  • Aquarium with chinchillas.
  • Hotel smells of chinese soup.
  • Scary Christmas shop (SO insisted we buy cable car Christmas tree decorations. Sometimes I worry, I really do).
This last point is written in SO's writing. Due to the fact that I went down with the Worst Cold Ever as soon as we landed and was basically flu-ridden for the first week, SO was designated driver in San Francisco. You've seen Bullet, right? It's just like that in real life. Only scarier and with more screaming.

  • Hat shop (didn't go in)
  • EPIC hat shop (hat regret).
The hat regret was because - for reasons I can only attribute to temporary insanity brought on by an overdose of cough medicine - I decided against buying this:

I'm choking up a bit now, just thinking about  what might have been
Man I loved that winged horse hat. *sigh*

After San Francisco, we followed the Redwood Trail north along the Pacific Coast and through endless forests of ENORMOUS trees. The minutes of this journey look like this:

  • Many big trees.
  • Bendy roads.
  • Smoke in trees.
  • Bored of trees.
Occasionally they are punctuated with moments of excitement, such as:

  • Elk.
  • Gualalalalalalaalala (I think this was the name of a town we stopped in to buy crisps. I can't be sure)
  • Drove through a tree!!!!! 
See? Drive-through tree.

The rest of this page of notes is one big scribble, pertaining to the fact that SO walked into a glass door and that this was 'my favourite thing so far, better than the Monkey Orchestra'.

I leave this instalment with a picture of our view from the Crescent Beach Motel window. The Pacific is beautiful to look at, but bugger me it's noisy to sleep next to.

Pacific Ocean - a noisy neighbour

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads...

Crumbs - I've been away from this place so long Blogger has completely changed its interface since I was last here. Apologies if this turns out upside down, or bright pink, or accidentally in Comic Sans or something... [EDIT: I just previewed this post and it genuinely had turned my template into Comic Sans. I nearly had a conniption]

Anyway, the main reason why I've not been boring you with my exploits recently is that I have been on a Great Big Adventure. Having got married last year, the Significant Otter and I decided that for our Honeymoon we would take a real trip of a lifetime and do a road trip around Mid-West America, seeing places we've never seen, seeking out new life and new civilisations, boldly, hang on, that's Star Trek. Well, you get the picture.

Aw, the route looks a bit like a heart. I did not notice this, but this is because I have no romance in my soul.
We knew we wanted to start in San Francisco then visit Portland, Oregon (mostly for the beer), before striking out East towards South Dakota so that we could go and be sweary in Deadwood before heading down to Colorado and flying back from there to Los Angeles at the very end. We booked nothing but the car hire, our flights there and back, and the first night's accommodation. Oh, and a cocktail bar for the first evening in San Francisco. Because thirst is a dangerous thing.

What followed was three of the most amazing, fullest, busiest, most exhausting but wonderful weeks of my life. My intention to document all this in the form of a mobile blog as we went along failed almost immediately, mostly because a) I couldn't type in the car because I'd be sick and b) I'm very lazy. Instead, every night at whatever dodgy motel, diner or saloon we found ourselves in I would fish out of my bag some stolen hotel paper and a stolen hotel pen and we would write a bullet-point retrospective of the highlights of our day. I am going to use these beer-stained, garbled, badly spelled notes as the basis of my attempt to record our Great Big Adventure for posterity. 

Bear in mind we did go through eight different states, three different timezones, and drank our bodyweights in strangely-named American micro-brewed beers with pictures of wildlife on the bottle, so I'm not going to try and recount everything in one go. These posts may be sporadic, but I promise I will get there in the end!

A few statistics to start us off:

States we travelled  through: California, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado.
Miles driven: 3349
Number of different hotel/motel rooms stayed in: 17. I think. Might have to come back to that one.
Amount of toiletries stolen: lots.
Local wildlife accidentally killed: almost one duck.
Horrible colds caught within hours of landing: 1
Acceptable cups of tea: One. On the last day.

I will be back with an account of our first week, which took us from San Francisco to Portland. But for now, here's a picture of me pointing at a buffalo. You're welcome. 

Friday, 30 March 2012

And this is how we spend our evenings

Sitting watching TV with Significant Otter last night, commercial break comes on.


SO: What?

LL: There was just an advert for a bed and the bed had a TV that went up and down into the end of the bed! [attempts to mime a TV going up and down into the end of a bed. This is harder than it sounds] And it was only EIGHT HUNDRED POUNDS!!! That's, like, how much a TV costs on it's own, plus you get a free bed!! IT'S LIKE A BED FROM THE FUTURE!!!

SO: Firstly, there is so much wrong with how you judge the value of things. And secondly those beds-with-
TV's-in have been around for ages. I've seen them in shops. I've even played with the buttons that make the TV's go up and down.

LL: [looks at SO like he's just admitted to having had a pair of Marty Mc Fly hover-trainers for the last six months and kept it a secret] So TellyBeds are, like, a Thing? You've known about these magical things?

SO: Yes.

LL: And we still don't have one?

SO: We don't watch TV in bed.

LL: That's because we don't have a TellyBed. We've just got a boring, ordinary bed. I hate our bed. It's got no technology in it at all. It's not digitally entertaining in any way.

SO: [with a cheesy wink] The analogue entertainment is good though.

LL: [choosing to ignore this terrible attempt at innuendo] I bet EVERYONE else has a Tellybed except us. This is so embarrassing. This is like being the last people to have a VHS player. We have a Betamax bed.

SO: I'm really not sure they're as popular as....

LL: Of course everyone has one! They're only EIGHT HUNDRED POUNDS. [taps on website on phone]  I can probably get one with Paypal right now...

SO: We are not buying a bed with a TV in it.


LL: If we had a telly bed you could sit in it all day and play Skyrim.

SO: And you could bring me snacks and beer and bottles to pee in?

LL: If it meant we could have a technologically advanced televisual bed from the future, yes. I would do that.

I'm still not sure if I won. But I'm not letting this one go.....

Thursday, 29 March 2012

I'm saving you from yourselves.

This has not, in many respects, been the brilliantest of weeks.

I'm suffering from is-it-can-be-holiday-time-nao ennuie (five working days, and counting); the sun is shining - which should be a marvellous thing but I work overlooking a glorious park full of sunbathing students and Australians who silently mock me as I sit under the artificial office lights; and I have been forced to deal with a greater-than-usual amount of idiots over the last few days. For example, I had this phone conversation with a Local Government Representative yesterday:

LGR:  I'm afraid the application that you put in has been refused, because you didn't give us the mandatory ten working days to process it.
LL: The one that you have already processed and approved, you mean?
LGR: Yes. We are going to have to cancel the approval because you didn't give us enough time to approve it in - we state  ten working days. You only gave us nine - because of the bank holiday.
LL: But, you approved it within two days. I was actually impressed with how quick and efficient it was.
LGR: Yes. That was a mistake. It should have taken us ten days.
LL: So. Because I didn't give you ten days to do something that you managed to complete in two days you are going to cancel that two days of work AND give yourself an extra lot of admin so that YOUR HEAD DOESN'T EXPLODE WITH THE CONFUSION OF THINKING FOR ITSELF??*
LGR: It takes ten days.

*this bit may have taken place only inside my head. 


The underlying cause of all this grumpiness, however, can probably be tracked back to the fact that my faithful servant, Juki the sewing machine, threw an immense wobbly at the weekend and has had to be put into machine-rehab in order to think about what she has done. I've been like a bear with a sore head about it all week.

Not to be beaten, however, I've been working on other ways of using fabric.The pendants have proved popular and I have now introduced an accompanying range of compact mirrors. Though I say so myself (which I do, look, I'm about to say it right now), these are a fabulous way of showing off slightly bigger prints. Also, a pocket mirror is an invaluable thing to have in your bag. You can use it for:

  • doing your makeup on the bus
  •  looking under the sofa for lost treasure/Maltesers/cats
  • checking to see if someone is dead in a Victorian thriller
  • signalling to ships when adrift on a desert island
  • peering round corners without being seen to check if the zombies have gone
  • lighting small fires in a survival situation
...and all manner of things. I guess what I'm saying, really, is: buy one of my mirrors. It could save your life.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Pendants' Corner

Crafty Pirate Pendant

When I first started making and selling my creations, I had a carrier bag full of fabric. This soon spread into a storage box. And another. And another. I'm reaching critical fabric mass now at home and soon will have to actually deal with this - possibly by tidying and filing it all away neatly, or perhaps just with the use of a lot of binbags and a massive tantrum, I haven't decided yet. 

Space Invader Pendant
One box that causes me great consternation is my Scraps Box. Any offcuts that measure above a couple of inches but below the size of a coin purse get stuffed into an old Star Wars shoebox, where they remain, trapped in the dark, for ever. I have vague ideas of some magnificent patchwork project, although the only way this might happen would be if I was suddenly transported into a parallel universe where there were 72 hours in every day.

So it is with great joy and pride that I am able to announce that I have finally found a useful way to bring some of these forgotten pieces of fabric back out into the light and let them take centre stage in my new range of pendant jewellery.

Just look at his boggly eyes...
I've scoured my stash to find the cutest, tiniest, prettiest, and coolest little snippets of designs and placed them in copper-tone bezels, covered with a crystal clear piece of resin to preserve their loveliness. Carrying on the fabric theme, they come complete with a coloured voile ribbon with a clasp and extender chain.

Lemur Lady has always been all about showcasing the fabrics that I find, and what better way than by literally framing them. Tiny little works of art. It's what they deserve, after all that time in the shoebox.

Pendant necklaces are available now from Lemur Lady's Awesome Emporium, for £7.25 each including postage. 

Friday, 9 March 2012

CRAFTfest, this week!

Tomorrow sees the start of CRAFTfest, an online 'virtual craft extravaganza' run by the lovely people behind Creative Connections. From 10th - 18th March, from the comfort of your own home, you will be able to browse over 100 craft 'stalls', showing off a huge variety of the crafting talent out there. No hanging around in draughty village halls or drinking tea from a polystyrene cup in a rainy car park (although I have to admit to secretly liking the 'chip van' tea experience, but that's another story), you can shop with the click of a mouse and buy directly from the crafters themselves.

In case I haven't whet your appetite yet, here's my pick of some of the lovely goodies on offer - click on the shop's name to check out their stall.

Altered Era has some drool-worthy steampunk and Victorian-inspired jewellery. I especially love this bracelet made from old typewriter keys:

This adorable bear may look like he belonged to your grandmother, but in fact he is brand new and painstakingly created by Northfield Primitives, who makes dolls and animals inspired by toys of yesteryear. This chap even stands on vintage Meccano wheels!

I've admired the lovely applique work of MinXtures for a while now. Her PE bags are ostensibly for children, but if I was ever to need a gym bag (like, if the only survivors in a post-apocalyptic world were the ones who could attain a certain level on the stair-climbing machine), I would so end up with this sad-koala. MinXtures also makes fabulous Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario cushions and bedcovers, so you can recreate the console wars of the 1990's in the comfort of your own bedroom.

All these and many many more (including Lemur Lady's Awesome Emporium) will be on display from tomorrow at CRAFTfest. Do pop along and have a gander - when else do you get the chance to visit a craft fair without changing out of your pyjamas? Well, without getting arrested or sectioned, anyway.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

If they don't make 'em like they used to - make 'em yourself!

It's no secret to those who know me that as well as superheroes and skulls, I'm also a big fan of all things vintage.

The vintage scene is huge at the moment and there are a lot of fabulous bloggers out there who are much better and more knowledgeable about it than me*, so don't worry, I'm not going to start writing fashion columns or telling you how to achieve perfect Victory rolls while plucking your eyebrows into a sublime arch and rocking your latest peplum (although I'd love to be able to tell you how to do all those things. In fact, if you guys find out, can you tell me, please? I'm rubbish at all of that). In fact I am very much a beginner, until recently more of an admirer from afar, but I have found myself with more and more 'vintage inspired' pieces in my wardrobe.

Being a sensibly-sized person, and with some experience of trying costumes on for stage productions, I find it tricky to find genuine vintage pieces that fit. They'll often fit my waist and hips, but get up to the shoulders and I've no chance. Seriously, did women prior to 1970 have no shoulders at all? It's a pet theory of mine that women of yesteryear never had any need to raise their arms above waist height and therefore it didn't matter that it was impossible to move out of the penguin position at any time.

But, oh, it's those 1930's and 40's outfits, with their slim sleeves, exquisite tailoring and glorious silhouettes that I am drawn to again and again. A 50's circle dress, such as the wonderful repro versions available from Vivien of Holloway, is great for a party (or, indeed, a team of piratical bridesmaids), but it's so much harder to find - and wear - that Golden Age look from a few decades earlier, especially if you don't have the money to a) buy genuine pieces and b) hire minions to hail taxis for you and do all the other things that might require you to lift your arms to an unladylike angle.

So it was with great joy and jubilation that I came across a wonderful US pattern site the other day. offer a drool-worthy collection of clothing patterns from yesteryear, all re-drafted in order to cater for multiple modern sizes. Everything from achingly beautiful evening gowns to dapper gents trousers (don't forget your pipe), and this frankly batshit-awesome 1887 halloween costume.

My wings are a shield of steel. And crinoline.
It's a costume-lover's candy store and I want to buy and make everything. In the end, I have settled on this beautiful trouser ensemble from 1936. I'm planning on making the view on the left from some sort of smashing tweedy sort of material.

I shall also endeavour to perfect the  Sideways Look of Disdain

The pattern arrived in the post yesterday and I have only had time to glance at it briefly. Like all patterns, upon first glance it feels a little like stumbling across an ancient manuscript covered in complex diagrams and symbols from a language that time forgot, but I'm sure it will come into focus once I look more closely. Otherwise I'll just nip to the British Museum and see if they'll lend me the Rosetta Stone.

It's likely to be a slow project, as I'm simultaneously launching the made-to-order-clothing side of the Emporium (follow me on Facebook for more news on that!), but I shall pop back with updates and let you know how I get on.

I'd love to hear from anyone else who's used an Evadress pattern. How did it work out for you?

*Check out the gorgeous ladies who make up the Vintage Mafia, for starters. The marvellous Fleur de Guerre's Diary of a Vintage Girl is one of my particular favourites. 

Monday, 6 February 2012

And the winner is....

Thanks to everyone who entered my '500 people like me enough to say so on Facebook' giveaway.

Your comments made me, variously, smile, laugh, and snort wine through my nose. I think we have conclusively proved that if we all got to be what we wanted to be, the world would be a happier place. Happier, but very badly organised, with nobody in any service jobs. Also the rubbish would pile up horribly and there would be no-one to work in the banks. Perhaps there wouldn't be any banks? We would all barter services and chocolate. Although all the chocolate factories would probably close down due to a lack of people to maintain the machinery and we'd end up in some sort of weird apocalyptic situation where the world was full of human-octopus hybrids and Disney princesses. So maybe it's a good job we don't all get what we wish for.

For those that have asked, I still don't know what I would like to be when I grow up. I have narrowed it down to:

Zookeeper (lemur enclosure, obviously)
Fantastically well-paid seamstress, but one who gets to keep out of the public eye and works from her own sewing room made of iron in Dorset, with a transporter beam to enable her to travel to London in an instant.
Cocktail taster - but one who magically doesn't get a hangover or liver damage.
Librarian or Post Office clerk. Because I just love stamping things.

Before I get too distracted and start looking for zookeeping courses, I'd better tell you who has won the giveaway.

This is not what it looked like. Shame.
I was going to get Doug to choose the winner, but he showed very little interest in the whole thing and I didn't want to put a dampener on proceedings by using a noncommital cat as an assistant. So instead, I allocated each commenter a number and fed it into a Random Number Generator. Which, in my head, should really be a big machine much like Bertha. (Come to think of it, add 'worker in Bertha's factory' to my list).

Despite a disappointing lack of beeps and whirrs and flashing lights, the RNG came up with (drumroll please), number 6.

It actually looked like this. Rubbish.
And according to my list, that means that Hannah Miller is the winner! Congratulations, Hannah, you may not get to be an archaeologist, but you can at least realise your dream of owning a free Lemur Lady phone pouch or fabric wallet of your choice. I'll be in touch on Facebook.

See you after the next 500!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Free Stuff! Get your free stuff here!

You too could win a purse like this. For no monies.
It's exciting times here at Lemur Towers (I don't live in a tower. Although that would be cool. But 'Lemur Terraced Flat' doesn't have the same ring to it). A whole FIVE HUNDRED people have been impressed/dazzled/confused/button happy enough to click 'like' on my Lemur Lady Facebook page.

That's half a thousand. And they can't all have been mistakes. I'm grateful and humbled and, if I'm honest, a bit overwhelmed.

To celebrate, as promised, I would like to give all my lovely Facebook stalkers  fans the chance to win a free bit of Lemur Lady magic for their very own. Oh yeah.

The winner gets a padded phone case or fabric wallet of their choice. Either from my stock (which will be refilled over the weekend), or a custom one made up with the fabric of your choice.*

The competition is inspired by a conversation the Significant Otter and I had earlier this week:

SO: Look! A blacksmith course. You know I've always wanted to be a blacksmith.
LL: Yeah. Although if you were a blacksmith we'd have to move to the country. You can't have a forge in a South London flat. Especially on the first floor.
SO: I could forge gateposts and sculptures for the rich people in Dulwich.
LL: No. We're moving to the country. You're going to be a blacksmith and I'm going to sew things all day in the sewing room that you will make me. Out of iron.
SO: I'm not sure you can build a room out of....
LL: Also, you will build me a library. Bitches love libraries.
SO: ............

So. To be in with a chance of winning both a handy phone case or wallet and the eternal admiration and respect of your friends and peers, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post answering the following question: 'What do you want to be when you grow up?'. Entries will close at 10am on Monday 6th Feb, at which time I will put all your names in a hat and let Doug the cat choose one to eat. Or maybe just use a random number generator. I haven't worked that out yet. But it will be fair.

*Terms and conditions apply: Fabric of choice restricted to quilting cottons that I can actually source - no platinum thread, linen woven on the thighs of virgins in the Tibetan foothills, or spider silk.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

What not to say to someone who is playing Skyrim

Not even Doug gets it.
"Gosh. That is loud"

"How are you carrying all that stuff? That's ridiculous."

"Is that you on fire?"

"You've bought a house? I thought this was medieval warfare, not the Sims."

"Awesome, a dragon! Wait...don't...don't hit it! LEAVE THE DRAGON ALONE!!! What's it done to you? Have you any idea how endangered those things are?"

"She is so not appropriately dressed for that sort of weather"

"Haven't you already done this bit? Twice? Oh. It was you on fire"

"Surely once you've wandered around one dungeon looking for an amulet, you've wandered round them all?"

"There's an awful lot of walking in this, isn't there?"

"Is something going to happen soon?"

"You're going shopping now? This is like real life. Only with more walking."

"Why does everyone have so many consonants in their names? It's like they've been picked out of a Scrabble bag."

"Can I unplug *this* one to plug my laptop in? What do you mean I'm in the way of the screen? Oh look, you're on fire again."


Since the above was originally published, I have begun playing Zelda: Skyward Sword on the Wii. It has been suggested that this is, in fact, a children's version of Skyrim. Yeah, well, do your shopkeepers make amusing noises instead of talking at your for hours about Nordic history? Do you get to fly a colourful bird in between map locations instead of trudging endlessly through snow? Does your character have one sword, one shield, and an endearing propensity to punch the air and go 'brrrrrllllliiiiiiing' every time they find a coin?


Then I'll take the 3-and-over version please. And don't come running to me when you wish you could do a spin attack.